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Old 02-17-2014, 09:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Clicker Training with a Ball

I am currently training my mutt with the clicker method and all is going well.

This is going well because Banshee loves food. But I got to wondering... what if you're dog doesn't love food? Everything I have read about clicker training seems to assume food is the best thing ever to ALL dogs, no exceptions. It makes sense, of course. Food is tasty and necessary for life. However, I think more than a few GSD owners have dogs that don't think food is the best.

When Lupa was little, she didn't eat much and even raw meat couldn't hold her attention for long. All she wanted was a ball or game of tug. Even today, she's is only slightly more food motivated than as a puppy. My attempts to train her with treats were a disaster; she would stop accepting the treat after 3 or 4 commands and run off to grab a toy. Once I started training her with a ball or tug reward, though, training took off and we soon got bored and had to add new commands and complexity to keep it interesting.

Could one clicker train a dog from the start, including loading, with toys and games? How would one do this? It seems a few problems would arise, namely you have to get the ball back somehow before the dog has learned the drop it command. Treats are advantageous at the beginning because they don't last.

Also, when wouldn't you recommend clicker training? Do Schutzhund trainers or human shepherds use clickers?

Any thoughts?
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Last edited by ilivenanigloo; 02-17-2014 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilivenanigloo View Post
I am currently training my mutt with the clicker method and all is going well.

This is going well because Banshee loves food. But I got to wondering... what if you're dog doesn't love food? Everything I have read about clicker training seems to assume food is the best thing ever to ALL dogs, no exceptions. It makes sense, of course. Food is tasty and necessary for life. However, I think more than a few GSD owners have dogs that don't think food is the best.

When Lupa was little, she didn't eat much and even raw meat couldn't hold her attention for long. All she wanted was a ball or game of tug. Even today, she's is only slightly more food motivated than as a puppy. My attempts to train her with treats were a disaster; she would stop accepting the treat after 3 or 4 commands and run off to grab a toy. Once I started training her with a ball or tug reward, though, training took off and we soon got bored and had to add new commands and complexity to keep it interesting.

Could one clicker train a dog from the start, including loading, with toys and games? How would one do this? It seems a few problems would arise, namely you have to get the ball back somehow before the dog has learned the drop it command. Treats are advantageous at the beginning because they don't last.

Also, when wouldn't you recommend clicker training? Do Schutzhund trainers or human shepherds use clickers?

Any thoughts?
The Schutzhund club I was involved with ONLY uses clicker training. They are very pro clicker training. Only positive. With a puppy, they always used food, but as they matured, they would find out what their dog was driven by. Most of the members used toys later on.
Hopefully other members will be able to help you more. Good luck!
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:08 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You don't have to use food but it's usually the easiest because you can c/t (click/treat) in rapid succession which is often why clicker training works so well. If I use a toy, I call it "marker training" instead of clicker training. I usually use a marker word like "yes". When using a toy it takes a bit longer to reward, I use it as more of a "jackpot" and often switch to this method with a behavior the dog knows and is proofing.

I do Schutzhund and use clicker and marker training, even for Schutzhund stuff.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks, guys!

I'm going to test this out with Lupa. I tried clicker training her as a puppy and today. Same result, basically. She takes some treats in a less than enthusiastic manner, as though she is just being polite, then goes off to find a ball. Whatever.

I am going to try clicking when she gets a ball. I tried her first loading session by taking 2 balls and throwing them, alternating, at her and clicking on the catch and rolling them across the yard and clicking.

We shall see if I can even load the clicker in a couple of days. Of course, as ball nuts as she is, it might take only one day.

I should have kept some of that snow we had last week....I bet I could c/t with that quickly. I m,ay have to get some shaved ice.
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RIP: 1 Betta Fish (Quasimodo)
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Constant rewarding is good only at the beginning of training a young puppy (IMHO). With the ball - the reward is the ball itself. Your dog wouldn't like to receive any other treat. The ball, thrown immediately after command and obedient performance, allowing her to fetch it - is the thing she really wants. I use only balls in training almost everything, no clickers, no food, no stroking. "Good boy/girl" - after series of performed commands.
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